KRNV Beats KREN to the HD Punch

KRNV, the NBC affiliate in Reno, Nev., is declaring victory in the race to offer high-definition news in the 110th-largest market.

The Sunbelt Communications-owned station began broadcasting news in 1080-line interlace (1080i) HDTV with its noon newscast Tuesday, and will now be offering 3.5 hours of HD news each weekday, including a 90-minute morning show, and 1.5 hours daily on weekends. A 30-minute public affairs program, "Nevada Newsmakers," will begin broadcasting in HD next month from Monday to Thursday, following the 30-minute noon news.

KRNV spent $4 million converting its news operations to HD, which included building a new set and replacing Sony Betacam SX cameras with Canon XL H1 HDV-format high-definition camcorders. The station had initially tried to launch HD news on Nov. 15, but ran into audio synchronization problems with the HD signal and aborted the attempt. The second go-round has been much smoother, says news director Jon Killoran.

"Everything went very, very well," says Killoran. "We are now on the air, and expecting to stay on the air, in HD."

Meanwhile, Pappas station KREN, the CW affiliate in Reno, experienced technical difficulties that postponed the scheduled Dec. 18 launch of its own HD newscast. The 10pm newscast, now slated to launch next week, will be the station's first local news product.

Sister station KAZR, a low-power station and Azteca America affiliate, is already on the air with its own 30-minute HD newscast. That HD newscast, which launched last month, is the first in Reno and the first Spanish-language HD newscast in the U.S.